In speaking about the prophecies of Isaiah, Nephi mentions that, “Isaiah spake many things which were hard for many of my people to understand; for they know not concerning the manner of prophesying among the Jews” (2 Nephi 25:1). According to John Sorenson, Nephi‘s comments imply that although Nephi’s group set about to reproduce some aspects of civilization as they recalled it from the land of Jerusalem, there were certain aspects of Israelite life that Nephi was happy enough to let die out because he considered them evil. [John Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., p. 141] In addition, Nephi’s comments might imply that with all the effort expended in the trek through the wilderness and the establishment of a settlement in the land of Nephi, his people might not have had the opportunity for intense scriptural education.
“For They Know Not Concerning the Manner of Prophesying Among the Jews”
According to Donald Parry, Nephi addresses his latter-day audience specifically in 2 Nephi 25 concerning Isaiah’s writings, giving us five keys to help facilitate in their comprehension. As the chart below illustrates, these keys include being filled with the spirit of prophecy, living righteously in the last days, and understanding the geography and rhetorical tradition of the Jews. (Source: Donald W. Parry, “Nephi’s Keys to Understanding Isaiah (2 Nephi 25:1-8),” in Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, ed. Donald W. Parry and John W. Welch. Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1998, 47-65) [John W. Welch and J. Gregory Welch, Charting the Book of Mormon: Visual Aids for Personal Study and Teaching, F.A.R.M.S., commentary for Chart 84]
2 Nephi 25:1 For they know not concerning the manner of prophesying among the Jews (Illustration): Chart: Five Keys to Understanding Isaiah Given in 2 Nephi 25. [John W. Welch and J. Gregory Welch, Charting the Book of Mormon: Visual Aids for Personal Study and Teaching, F.A.R.M.S., Chart 84]
2 Nephi 25:1 Now I, Nephi, do speak somewhat concerning the words which I have written ([Illustration] “Outlines of Passages Quoting Isaiah,” [John Gee, “Choose the Things That Please Me”: On the Selection of the Isaiah Sections in the Book of Mormon," in Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, p. 76]
Note* When Nephite prophets quoted Isaiah, they followed a regular pattern. The pattern they used in citing and interpreting Isaiah in the Book of Mormon may be standardized as follows:
B. Citation of a passage of scripture
C. Quotation of parts of the text and interpretation of the passage by explaining and defining terms
D. Conclusion by quoting the closing verses of the section.